I have a short attention span, and I almost forgot to finish my look at some of the more interesting programs that I saw at Macworld San Francisco. Again in no particular order…
Arrange your life with Common Knowledge’s new personal information manager. Arrange sports an intriguing interface that links different types of information, including names and addresses, appointments, to do lists, text and graphic notes, and even external files. I was impressed by Arrange’s flexibility and by clever features such as the Grabber, an extension that grabs whatever you have selected and pastes it into your Arrange Home File, whether or not Arrange is running. Unfortunately, Arrange won’t fit into my life for the moment since it’s limited to 16K of text in a field, and both the Import function and the Grabber accept only 4K. Sorry folks, but my personal information is often quite a bit larger than 4K. I’d like to see at least the standard 32K limit, and preferably no limit at all. The introductory price is $199, retail is $349, and there’s a demo at the URL below.
Kudos to Common Knowledge for acknowledging a nasty bug in Arrange 1.1. In a letter sent to registered owners, Common Knowledge warns of several actions that can result in a message saying, "Sorry, Arrange has unexpectedly run out of memory. Any unsaved work will be lost." after which Arrange quits. To work around this error (and save or auto-save frequently in case you forget) avoid using the left arrow in the calendar title bar to move to an earlier week for calendar views after 01-Feb-94. Also avoid changing from a "By month" view to a "By week" view using the pop-up menu at the top of the calendar title bar for months beginning with Feb-94. Bugs happen, but only conscientious companies go out of their way to report them to their users to prevent lost work and frustration. And of course, the upgrade to 1.1.1 will be sent free to all registered users once it’s done. More companies should be so thoughtful.
Common Knowledge — 415/325-9900 — 415/325-9600 (fax) — [email protected]
Cal, from Thought I Could, is an interesting combination of calculator and calendar. Although Cal reportedly offers a full set of the sort of functions we all like in calculators (such as two-level clearing, memory, and a negate button that flips the sign of the current number), its most interesting feature is that it can both speak and listen, although listening requires an AV Mac. No idea how powerful the calendar functions will be, but I hear that you will be able to completely customize Cal’s look with Wallpaper patterns. Cal lists for $79.95, but costs $49.95 on pre-release pricing and comes with a $5 discount for members of user groups, CompuServe, AppleLink, and Prodigy.
Thought I Could — 212/673-9724 — 212/260-1194 — [email protected]
ProFiles from Dayna may ease the lives of those of us who regularly work with large numbers of files scattered across multiple hard drives or fileservers. ProFiles is nominally a Finder replacement, and you can do much of what you can do in the Finder in ProFiles, but instead of creating a rigid folder structure, you create multiple documents, each of which provides a different view of files on your hard disk. For instance, if you wanted to see all of your applications, it’s a simple search, after which you can save that document to provide instant access to that virtual structure. Similarly, it’s easy to create more complex sets of files, and ProFiles supports Macintosh Drag and Drop, so you can even drag files and folders into its window from the Finder to add them. You have all the tools you’d expect, such as sorting, copying, moving, and deleting, and ProFiles includes a few nice additions, such as the capability to find orphaned aliases. I don’t think ProFiles is for everyone, since it’s best when you don’t quite know where a set of files is stored, or when you don’t control the structure of files on a Mac. However, consultants and tech support folks who must work on unknown Macs should definitely take a look at ProFiles. I can’t think of better tool for exploring and reorganizing (for yourself) someone else’s hard drive such that they don’t come after you and demand that you put it back the way it was. ProFiles costs $129, and Dayna promises a PowerPC version when the Power Macs ship.
Dayna — 801/269-7394 — [email protected]
More Doublers — Symantec, which last year purchased Fifth Generation Systems, which had in turn previously purchased Salient Software, announced DiskDoubler 4.0 and SuperDoubler 1.0, a $109 bundle of DiskDoubler 4.0, AutoDoubler 2.0, and CopyDoubler 2.0. SuperDoubler offers no new functionality but the three utilities have always worked well together. Upgrades from any of the three individual utilities are $39.99, and AutoDoubler and CopyDoubler will no longer be sold separately. The $79.95 DiskDoubler 4.0, however is a significant upgrade to Salient’s original Finder-level compression program. Enhancements include ever better compression and speed, a compression queue, the capability to make archives, and an archive browser window. Background compression, SEA creation, and integration with AutoDoubler remain from previous versions.
Symantec — 800/441-7234 — 503/334-7474 (fax)
WriteNow 4.0 from WordStar (but still developed by the same people who worked on it at T/Maker) reportedly offers the same fast speed, small size, and penurious RAM requirements, but adds a slick table maker, imports EPS, PICT, and TIFF graphics directly, can optimize itself for PowerBook usage by loading more of itself into RAM, supports 88 colors and greys for text, adds an Insert Document feature that essentially pastes one document into another, and includes a Merge Helper for simplifying persnickety mail merges. Upgrades for registered users are $29.95 for a limited time; list price is $119.
WordStar Upgrades – 800/843-2204 — 800/582-8000 (fax)
Popup Folder from Inline Software reduces the amount of time you spend navigating through a myriad of Finder folders. It turns every folder, either on your desktop or in SF Dialogs, into a hierarchical menu. Want to store a file several levels down? Just drag it onto the highest level folder you can see, navigate down the hierarchical menu until you reach your destination, and then drop the file. Popup Folder can display small icons on the desktop to make it a more conducive place for storing folders. Popup Folder also makes your Apple menu hierarchical, not that that’s particularly new. My main potential concern with Popup Folder (and it hasn’t been released yet) is that hierarchical menus are efficient, but a mega-pain to use. I recommend that you use something like a trackball click-lock feature or the sticky menus feature of Now Menus to avoid the long drag to navigate a number of hierarchical menus. Those with hand and wrist problems will have major troubles otherwise, since dragging is one of the hardest operations to perform due to the added pressure on the button while moving.
Inline Software — 800/453-7671 — 203/435-4995
Yet another utility package called ALLright Enhancements comes from MSA. ALLright includes modules for toggling and instantly displaying Balloon Help, a version of COPYright, MSA’s original background copying utility, what appears to be a clone of Super Boomerang, an extension manager, a limited macro utility, a hierarchical Apple menu utility, a sticky note utility, a desktop printer utility that lets you quickly switch between printers from a Finder menu, and a sound utility for playing asynchronous event-driven sounds. I haven’t seen the program yet, but each module is independent, so you can install just the ones you want. Although ALLright doesn’t excite me since none of the included utilities break new ground, it sounds like a solid package that some people should like.
MSA — 900/366-4622 — 412/471-7170 — 412/471-7173 (fax) — [email protected]